Sunday, August 19, 2007

Zimbabwe: A classic case

A thought just occured to me that this is an interesting companion to CMStrapz post about Bush and dictatorships.

According to this article, Zimbabwe faces a total collapse within the next few months. Africa is for the most part a craphole anyway. But Zimbabwe, at one time, was on the upswing. It had a strong, growing economy, and was a net exporter of agricultural goods.

That all changed when Robert Mugabe established his dictatorship. He is an avowed Marxist, and he has held power since the 80's, but in recent years he has put into effect a number of programs whose results are all too predictable. A couple of classic examples:

  • Redistributing private property - he confiscated farms (primarily white-owned and farmers) and gave them to his cronies (generally non farmers). Result: Zimbabwe went from being the "breadbasket of Africa" to a place where people are literally dying in the streets from hunger.
  • Price controls - mandating pricing of goods and services does not work: "he ordered businesses to cut prices 50 percent and more – supposedly, so people could shop. At least 5,000 resisting business owners and managers were fined and jailed; taxi drivers had vehicles impounded. When stores sold out, producers couldn't afford to import or produce more, so shelves stayed empty. Businesses closed; commerce stopped."
There are other examples that you can look at but the bottom line is this: Mugabe brought this upon himself, his failed Marxist ideology brought this upon himself. He's had 30 years of imposing misery on his people and that's 30 years too many. I hope the next regime learns from his mistakes (unlikely, given the areas history, but I'm an optimist). Oh yeah, if things remain true to form, Mugabe will end up like most dictators. Like this guy, or this guy or this guy. It would be asking way too much if he ended up like this guy.

I don't think we are close to having a dictatorship in this country, but who knows? The optimist tells me that wouldn't happen here because a) people still believe in the rule of law and b) there are way too many guns out there (thank god for the Second Amendment). But isn't that how things like that happen? Doesn't it sneak up on a country and reveal itself once it's in power?

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